Jan 9 2019

Jan 9, 2019

In 2012 the current School tax was formulated because of the Boricas v Alameda USD (“AUSD”) Appeal’s Court decision. At that time Piedmont Unified School District (“PUSD”) declared the only possible tax methodology was to tax every parcel at the same rate because Boricas had rendered Piedmont’s previous attempt at a progressive tax by parcel size legally invalid.

PUSD’s hurried decision was not the only option and certainly not the best option as compared to the previous five tier parcel system, the current flat rate tax raised the rate of 75% of those in smaller homes by about $300 while lowering the rate by over $1000 for the largest estates.

I. A progressive tax based on a per square foot (“sf”) of building space has been and is currently used by AUSD. The current AUSD tax Measure B1, passed by 74% in 2016, was challenged by the 2011 Boricas Plaintiffs and in 2018 AUSD prevailed. PUSD cannot in good faith claim per square foot of building tax levy is invalid. < https://tinyurl.com/yb8g4f92 >

A progressive tax is essential for Piedmont’s expensive school support tax. No other School Tax comes close in cost to taxpayers. While Piedmont had previously embraced a partially progressive tax, PUSD now has a progressive tax option that is far more equitable using building square footage.

Commonly accepted is the direct correlation of the quality of Piedmont Schools and ever increasing real estate values in town. Values are also a function of home size: the larger home in a given neighborhood will proportionally increase in value more than a similar smaller home. Ask any Real Estate professional.

Additionally, the larger Piedmont home generally accommodates more children; the large homeowner again economically benefits proportionately more from the school tax than the small or average size homeowner. Incorporating a square foot of building tax will be both more equitable and palatable to a large majority of taxpayers and an easier sell for the Tax Campaign Committee.

The Piedmont tax currently provides about $10,400,000. There are about 10,340,000 square feet of residential buildings so about $1 a foot is needed. The average home size is about 2,430 sf so essentially many homeowners will pay close to the current amount. Median size of 2,710 sf indicates that those with larger homes will proportionately pay their fair share.

II. Piedmont taxpayers voted on a tax that stated every parcel will be taxed but every parcel with a unique Assessor Parcel Number (APN) is not taxed. Examples include several parcels over 20,000 sf that are not taxed yet other large vacant parcels are taxed. An eight sf parcel at the edge of town is taxed yet the adjacent 144 sf parcel is not taxed. The hodge-podge system must end. A tax based on square foot of building and flat rate for vacant parcels, as AUSD uses, will take care of these inequities. A contiguous parcel exemption may be appropriate.

III. From high to low most California school taxes include a senior exemption.
San Marino USD with its $1,215 parcel tax has a senior exemption and West Contra Costa County with its 7.2 cents per sf of building has a senior exemption.
Among California’s top ten school districts Piedmont alone does not include a senior exemption.

According to the US Census about 20% of Piedmonters are over 65 and a straight senior exemption may unfairly tax young families given the very high Piedmont school tax. An income based Senior Exemption is needed; one or two per cent of seniors would qualify.

In 2012 the Board informed the public an income based Senior Exemption is not allowed by State Law yet the income based senior exemption was then and is now commonly used elsewhere. Locally income based senior exemptions are used in Oakland, Berkeley, Orinda and Moraga. State law applies equally to all school districts.

The current SSI based tax exemption is meaningless and an income based senior exemption will include any SSI recipients.

Respectfully

Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

Att: May 4, 2018 AUSD Press Release

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Jan 9 2019

On Sunday, January 6th despite the rain, the backstop at Hampton Field was dedicated to Piedmont native and Oakland Police Officer John Hege, who was killed in the line of duty in March of 2009.

Present at the dedication was Hege’s mother, Tam Hege, who spoke at the occasion to the throng of police officers from Oakland and Piedmont the well over 100 participants gathered to honor Hege.

Prior to his 10-year law enforcement career, John served as a teacher, an umpire, and a coach. In addition to coaching football at Piedmont High School, John umpired hundreds of baseball games at Hampton Field. Raised and educated in the East Bay, Hege earned the distinction of Eagle Scout with Troop 15 in Piedmont. Hege’s mother Tam was actively involved in Piedmont with many volunteer roles including School Board member, Planning Commissioner, and President of the Piedmont League of Women Voters. Hege graduated from St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California.

After college, Hege worked as a teacher in Hayward. In 1993, he joined the Oakland Police Department as a volunteer reserve police officer. OPD hired Hege as a full-time police officer in 1999, assigning him to the Bureau of Field Operations. After patrolling Oakland neighborhoods for 10 years, Hege fulfilled a lifelong dream with a transfer to the Traffic Operations Section and an assignment as motorcycle officer.

John loved both his career and his hometown Raiders. Friends and family were also important, and Hege was famous for planning parties, organizing trips and gathering people together. Selfless to the end, Officer Hege’s organ donations saved the lives of four people and his tissue donation improved the lives of as many as fifty others. Hege will be remembered as a caring friend, a devoted son, and a role model for his fellow officers.

Residents with questions are encouraged to contact Recreation Director Sara Lillevand at (510) 420-3040 or slillevand@piedmont.ca.gov

Jan 5 2019

The sole new item on the City Council agenda for Monday, January 7 is the possibility of a School Resource Police Officer (SRO).  (Read the agenda  here.)  A number of communities have considered the SRO program and some have implemented SROs. There is a national organization of School Resource Police Officers –read NASRO explanation of the program here.

The New York Times Sunday, January 6 Magazine cover article focuses on the reporting by SROs to various law enforcement entities, including reporting students to ICE.  ” Schools with large populations of black and Latino students are more likely to have a resource officer than schools that are majority white.  … President Trump called for police officers on every campus. …In January 2018 in Houston, ICE detained a high schooler with a 3.4 G.P.A. after a school resource officer wrote him up for fighting with another student.

Advocates suggest that School Resource Officers serve as counselors, role models, and advocates for students, families, faculty, and staff, while bringing security to school campuses. School Resource Officers are a recognized and approachable resource for students and faculty during and after school, at school events, and during investigations that have a tie to school campuses and activities.  In addition to being available on campus to quickly respond to emergency situations, SROs can be a valuable resource for students, parents, teachers and administration regarding law enforcement related issues. Enforcement is not the expectation of the School Resource Officers, in fact the main objective is to help the student avoid the criminal justice system by employing the principles of restorative justice. School Resource Officers heavily focus in the area of prevention. The officers give presentations in classrooms, talk with students in the hallways, building relationships and alert to problems.  These relationships establish important lines of communication that help to prevent crime and school violence.

PUSD Superintendent Randall Booker and Piedmont Police Chief Jeremy Bowers have been discussing a dedicated police position assigned to SRO duty as part of the implementation of the “Safe School Plan.”  On Wednesday, November 14, 2018 the Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education (PUSD) discussed the proposed Police SRO.  This specially trained police officer would combine a unique combination and unusual set of skills: counselor, teacher, social worker, and law enforcement professional. As a counselor, this police officer would support students and staff. As a teacher, the officer would give classroom presentations and educate students on the police. As a social worker, the officer would help resolve conflicts within the school community. Furthermore, the ultimate goal of this position would be to  improve the overall safety of our schools.  (Read the staff report complete with statement of duties and skills here.)

Council meeting Monday,  January 7, 2019, 7:30  p.m. City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27 and on the City website under videos. 

Dec 23 2018

Republic Service reminds customers to manage their extra packages and materials during the holidays, by putting the right things in your recycling container.

ALWAYS RECYCLE

  • Paper & Flattened Cardboard
  • Metal Cans
  • Plastic Jugs & Bottles
  • Plain Wrapping Paper

TRASH OR REUSE

  • Padded Envelopes
  • Ribbons & Bows
  • Bubble Wrap
  • Packing Peanuts
  • Foil or Glittery Wrapping Paper

Once cardboard or paper comes into contact with food or liquid, it can no longer be recycled. Make sure to keep your outdoor recycling lid tightly closed during wet winter weather and don’t use your recycling container as an overflow trash can.

While hard plastic containers like water bottles, milk jugs and detergent containers can go in your container, their lids, however, are too small to recycle by themselves, so either put them back on the containers or throw them away.

See more Republic recommendations here

Holidays

HAPPY HOLIDAYS 

from the 

PIEDMONT CIVIC ASSOCIATION!

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Dec 18 2018

Recreation Commission in the City Council Chambers, Wednesday, December 19, 2018

120 Vista Avenue at 7:30 pm

The agenda for the December Recreation Commission meeting includes Tennis Courts, Pickleball, Coaches Field Master Plan, and Linda Beach Playfield Master Plan.

Chair’s Report

Director’s Report

Update on City Website

Update from the Subcommittee on Tennis Court Use and Pickleball

Update on Coaches Field Masterplan

Update on Linda Beach Masterplan

Update on Recreation Center Tennis Court Renovations

Read the full agenda and draft minutes  December Recreation Commission Meeting Agenda

The public is invited to attend the meeting.

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Dec 18 2018

Piedmont City Hall, Conference Room, 120 Vista Avenue

6:00 p.m.

Thursday, December 20

Special Meeting of Piedmont Unified School District Board of Education

Read the agenda:  https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=1241&MeetingID=68726&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False

The Piedmont Board of Education will convene at 6 p.m. for a Closed Session to consider expulsion of a student.  It will be  followed by a 6:55 p.m. Open Session to report on Closed Session Action taken and to comply with signature cards.

Dec 15 2018

Piedmont Police PRESS RELEASE

On December 12, 2018 at 4:58 p.m, a strong armed robbery occurred at the corner of Wildwood and Grand Avenues. The victim was walking northbound in the crosswalk smoking a cigarette. While in the crosswalk, he was approached from behind by suspect 1 (S1) and asked if he had a lighter. The victim gave him his lighter. The suspect used and returned the lighter and then walked away towards Wildwood Avenue.

Shortly thereafter, the victim was on the northeast corner of the intersection and was asked  by a second suspect (S2) if he had a lighter, which he thought was unusual. Before he could react, he noticed S1 walking towards him. At the same time, S2 (who was behind the victim) wrapped his arms around the front shoulders of the victim. The victim grabbed his laptop bag, which was crossed draped around his right shoulder. Both suspects began punching the victim in the head. The punches caused the victim to fall to the ground.

The victim said he felt approximately 30 punches to his head and shoulders which caused him to experience vision issues. The suspects took the victim’s laptop and fled in a vehicle with another occupant. Witnesses described the “get-away” vehicle. Piedmont Police Department officers immediately responded to the scene and began to search for the suspects and suspect vehicle.

Officers located the suspect’s vehicle parked smoking on St. James Drive. Another witness noticed the suspects running towards Trestle Glen Road. Both S1 and S2 were located and arrested on Trestle Glen Road. The third suspect was not located and the laptop is presumed to be with the third suspect based on video evidence. The suspects were positively identified by the victim and witnesses. Both suspects were arrested and transported to jail.

Suspect 1 – Rowell, Derick Jamal, 26, Oakland, was charged with Robbery, Assault, Conspiracy and Probation violations.

Suspect 2 – Stewart, Charles Ranando Jr., 29, Oakland, was charged with Robbery, Assault, Conspiracy and Probation violations.

If anyone has any information related to this event, please call Detective Jeff Spranza at (510) 420-3013. If you wish to remain anonymous you may call the Piedmont Police Department Tip Line at (510) 420-3055.

Dec 15 2018

December 10th Planning Commission

On Monday, December 10th, I went to the Planning Commission meeting at Piedmont City Hall from 5-7 p.m. The Planning Commission meets on the second Monday of every month and makes decisions regarding local construction or housing modifications. In this particular meeting, the Commission made a decision about two specific houses, and whether they could start their construction.

The first house was 66 Hampton Road. For this house, three speakers came up and talked in support of starting the potential construction. The first two speakers were the owners of the house. Their first argument was that they had kids, and needed to build a second floor on their house so they could live more comfortably, since they all sleep in the same room at the moment. They brought a lot of passion with these arguments. They also made the argument that since they both worked at home, they needed more space to work all day. Then, they tried to counter their neighbors’ arguments.

The neighbors claimed the construction would cause them to lose a significant amount of light and privacy. For this argument, the owners of 66 Hampton Road sent their architect up to describe the sun study they did, which essentially concluded that the neighbors would lose minimal light and privacy.

However, the neighbors also brought up their architect who claimed the sun study was wrong and they would actually lose a lot of light. The rule was construction can only cost a neighbor to lose “little to no light.”

The Commission ended up unanimously rejecting the 66 Hampton Road proposal for a multitude of reasons. One planner noted that they couldn’t judge the case based on any emotions, so they couldn’t feel sympathy for the children. Another mentioned how the plans were turned in right before the meeting and that wasn’t adequate enough time to look over them. In the end, the neighbors were right, the city is strict on the amount of light lost for construction and too much light was lost in this case.

Personally, I agreed with the decision because the owners of 66 Hampton Road had a lot of holes in their argument. For instance, they claimed they wanted to be closer to their kids but planned on building a master bedroom on the second floor and being a full floor away from them. Also, their architect seemed way more disorganized and confused than the opposing architect, so I didn’t believe his sun study.

The second case was pretty much the opposite. In this case, 319 Magnolia Avenue, all the neighbors had agreed to the ­­construction, it was just up to the Commission. The owners of this house wanted to build out the second floor and extend their deck. This proposal was backed up by their neighbors, the Goldbergs. The Commission still rejected it though, because the build out called for a lot of variances which were not optimal.

by Carvel Tefft, Piedmont High School Senior

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

 

Dec 13 2018

 Council meeting Monday, December 17, 2018, 7:30  p.m. City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will be broadcast live on Cable Channel 27 and on the City website under videos. 

Agenda 

READ the full staff report and recommendations for approval by clicking below.

http://www.ci.piedmont.ca.us/html/govern/staffreports/2018-12-17/crowncastlesettlement.pdf

Dec 12 2018

Chester Nakahara, Director of Piedmont Public Works wrote to:

Bruce [Joffe],

On September 6, 2016, the City Council approved a new street sweeping schedule after operating for years under the former schedule. The former schedule was complicated and was loosely based on specific tree leaf drop cycles, impacted streets, and driver efficiency. It was Council’s goal to make the schedule easier to remember and therefore promote more cooperation.

Moving of the cars was still voluntary, but it was our hope that the online neighborhood groups would establish their own regular notifications for each sweeping day in each neighborhood.  I know this voluntary cooperation can be frustrating, but on the whole, it works well for Piedmont as our streets are clean for an urban setting. We know this through our annual reports for the Alameda County Clean Water Program. In addition, this new schedule helps the City achieve approximately 20 – 25% more scheduled sweeping compared to the old schedule. This does not include any “supplemental or emergency sweeping” that usually occurs on the off-weeks and during storms. I’m not sure the system you suggest would significantly impact what our peers already consider a pretty clean city. I agree that it might affect how it looks in front of your house, but we have to look at street sweeping with a bigger lens over the whole city.  Also, remember that you can call Public Works for supplemental sweeping

Creating a system as you suggest would have significant impacts. These include:

  • Increase Police personnel and costs for daily enforcement of parking restrictions, towing, impounding vehicles, and administering enforcement.
  • Increased costs and aesthetic impacts for a massive signage program throughout the City, which is largely residential in character.

Chester Nakahara, Director of Public Works
City of Piedmont
(510) 420-3061

~~~~~~~~

Hi Chester [Nakahara],

     Thanks for your responsive reply.

     I am glad to know that Piedmont now has a standard, regular street sweeping schedule.  I didn’t know what the schedule was for Rose Avenue this year.  How will the City notify us about the schedule when next year’s sweeping season starts?

     I am also glad to know that the volunteer notification process – neighbors posting signs four days in advance, calling the Public Works office, and calling the Police Dept when cars have parked in violation – works in some neighborhoods.  It does not work in the Lower Piedmont neighborhoods.

     You sited increased cost for not having a professional procedure of permanently posted signs (“no parking during these street sweeping days”), but what about the cost of the expensive machine NOT sweeping curbs because cars are parked on sweeping days?  As I said in my previous letter, taxpayers paid a lot of money for the street sweeping machine, and that money is wasted if the machine can’t clean the gutters because cars are parked on sweeping days.  And what about the cost of having to clean out storm drains because they are filled with unswept leaves?

     I suspect those costs would be reduced if the City conducted street sweeping more professionally, without depending on volunteers to keep cars off the street on sweeping days.  The benefits of cleaner leaf removal could be greater than the cost of posting signs (a on-time expense) and the cost of increased enforcement (paid for substantially by the fines imposed on violators).

Please reconsider your response of continuing to conduct street sweeping as a volunteer-assisted operation.

Sincerely,

Bruce Joffe, Piedmont Resident

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